Some chiropractors and other natural healing disciplines suggest that occasional fasting has positive effects of cleansing the body and ridding it of toxins, allowing it functions better.
Others critique fasting, saying it starves the body and that regular periods in between eating, such as during sleep, are enough to give the digestive system the rest it needs.
So…whom do we believe?
For centuries, people have practiced fasting, whether it be for religious or therapeutic reasons. Fasting is even documented in biblical accounts. Fasting is when one voluntarily abstains from all substances, except for water, for a certain period of time. Most healthy people can stand up to three days of fasting on their own, and fasts of a longer duration should only take place with direct supervision of a trained health care professional.
What Are the Benefits?
The benefits associated with fasting may include:
- Giving the digestive system a break from its daily activities.
- Cleansing the body by eliminating harmful toxins.
- Allowing the body a period of rest for meditation and spiritual development.
- Introducing a period of transition to help the body gear up for change (this is primarily for weight loss, overcoming addictions, shift from meat eating to a vegetarian diet, etc.)
Fasting is not advised for women who are pregnant or nursing, individuals with life-threatening illnesses such as cancer or AIDS, and for those with diabetes or liver disease. When taking prescription medication, check with your doctor prior to fasting.
What About the Research?
Studies conducted by Mark P. Mattson at the National Institute on Aging on mice concluded that fasting has positive effects on the process of aging as well. Mattson found in an earlier study that mice that fasted every other day had longer life spans. A more recent experiment found the mice also did better in factors involved in diabetes and nerve damage in the brain, like that found in Alzheimer’s.
At the 2014 American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions, researches presented information that fasting reduced cholesterol levels in prediabetic people over extended periods of time. Although more in-depth study needs to be done, these findings build the foundation for future study.
Fasting may not be for everyone, but if you are interested in discussing this or other options for cleansing your body, give us a call.